Does the Total Gym Really Work?


Does the Total Gym work?You’ve probably seen the Total Gym being marketed on the TV with none other than Chuck Norris. It’s been around for several years, and the gist is that you can replicate several gym-quality exercises on one machine, and that it doesn’t take up a bunch of room in your home. But how well does it really work, and what sort of workout can you expect to get from it?

Overview
Most home gyms have the same basic premise: they are trying to provide enough of a workout so that you don’t have to have a gym membership and avoid the monthly costs that come with them. It sounds like a good plan, but the equipment would have to be able to perform a number of different exercises in order to target the major and minor muscle groups of the body so that you can get the look you want.

The Claim
The Total Gym models are supposed to provide you with similar exercises that you’d find in the gym. You should be able to get a total body workout from them, which is hard to accomplish using just free weights at home. Take for instance lat pulldowns. It’s very hard to do this exercise at home, but the Total Gym can accomplish this easily. They seem to have put a lot of thought into how many different ways you can use this, and their top model is able to accommodate 80 different exercises.

The Hype
The thought of working out at home is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it does make it so you don’t have to leave your house, which during the cold winter months might be hard to motivate yourself to do. The thinking is that if you have a way to work out at home, you won’t have any excuse not to do it. But as countless unused treadmills and other dusty equipment can prove, having the means to work out at home does not always translate into results.

The Cost
If you go all out and get the top of the line Total Gym, you’re looking at the XLS a one-time payment of $800, all at once or broken up into 7 payments. This is a sale price so we can’t guarantee that they still have it going on. Let’s say you find a gym that charges $50 a month. You’d spend that much in 16 months, and then have to keep paying monthly. Now, all of this is under the assumption that you’d use your Total Gym as much as you go to the real gym. So it becomes cost effective only if you end up using it, and only from the 16th month and beyond.

Their least expensive model is the 2000, which is currently going for $600, but only has the capacity to perform 40 exercises instead of the 80 that the XLS can do.

The Commitment
You’ll want to commit to using it, not only to make it a sound financial decision, but also to get the results you want. There will likely be a learning curve involved, and it will be lessened by your familiarity with using gym equipment, especially those that use cables. The time spent learning how to use it would definitely be worth it, and would be a skill you could use for the long term as you keep yourself fit without having to leave the home. Of course you’ll still want to supplement your resistance workouts with a cardio program for a total fitness regimen.

Evaluation
You’re not just getting the Total Gym machine with no guidance on how to use it. They give you a getting started DVD so you can go from delivery to your first workout as quickly as possible. They also include workout programs that only take a few minutes to complete so you never have an excuse not to get fit. Just for clarification you won’t see Chuck Norris on the training videos, he just endorses the machine.

Some of the exercises will seem strange, because you’ll be on an incline and this can be somewhat disorienting at first. But in time there’s no doubt that you’d get the hang of it, and this provides many of the same motions that you’d get from gym equipment, without having to go to the gym or pay their fees. The way it folds up makes it easy to get it out of the way and open the room back up to other activities.

Final Total Gym Review

The Total Gym is getting the Thumbs Up rating from us. Not only has it withstood the test of time, but they keep making improvements to it so that it addresses user’s requests, and also so that it has even more features. It’s nice to see a company take a product that was already selling just fine, and make it better as it evolves.

Our Recommendation
You have to run the numbers to see if this makes sense to you. Depending on your demographic it might be a great deal, or you might be better suited with a gym membership. Some gyms offer monthly rates of $10 to $20 and if that’s the case you can get several years worth of membership for the same price as these. But if you live in an area that doesn’t have a nearby fitness center, or you live in a big city where the memberships are more expensive, you should seriously consider getting a Total Gym to avoid the whole situation entirely.

What do you think? Does Total Gym work or not?


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby M February 16, 2013 at 7:16 am

Total gym has been around for a long time and that’s the main reason why I was interested in the first place. There are many new shiny and interesting looking exercise equipment you can buy right now at your local sporting goods stores, but none of them have been around for as long as the total gym. There’s probably a good reason why this thing still sells as well as it does, so maybe I should go with the safest choice and just get me a total gym. I think that’s a good idea, is it? hehe~

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Andres Vargas July 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

This is really expensive at $800. You can get something cheaper on Craigs list for half the price which will do very similar things. This is because the idea of the home gym has been around for decades, and in that time, no one has invented a way to make getting in shape any easier (without steroids), whether you go to a gym or work out at home. The deign of total gym is good, providing exercises for the whole body, but I predict that most people will use it once or twice, then it will gather dust till you sell it or stick it in the garage.

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